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´╗┐Title: Jeppe on the Hill - or, The Transformed Peasant; a Comedy in Five Acts
Author: Holberg, Ludvig, baron, 1684-1754
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jeppe on the Hill - or, The Transformed Peasant; a Comedy in Five Acts" ***

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[Illustration: "Can't you trust me? I'm an honest man."]










  Copyrighted 1906 by


In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries two great spiritual movements
spread over Europe, the Renaissance and the Reformation. The former was
confined principally to southern Europe, and did not influence the life
or literature of the Scandinavian countries to any great extent. The
Reformation, however, caused a new tho brief literary era, especially in
Denmark, where the mother tongue was again accorded its proper place,
and the people again began to think of a national future.

Much had conspired to make the people of Europe lose faith in the old
ideas. Copernicus had demonstrated that the earth was only a planet in
an immense system, and Kepler and Galileo had taught that the earth
circled about the sun, and that there was order and regularity in the
movements of the heavenly bodies. Finally Newton announced his principle
that the law of gravitation governed each and every one of these
movements. All this together with the geographical discoveries of
Columbus, Magellan, De Gama and others, revolutionized people's ideas of
the universe and of the earth.

In December, 1684, just two weeks before Newton gave his first public
lecture explaining his discovery, a child who was destined to become the
founder of the Danish-Norwegian literature was born in Bergen, Norway.
That child was Ludvig Holberg. His parents died while the boy was but a
few years old, and he was brought up by relatives. Too weakly and small
to become a military man as his father had been, he was sent to the
"Latin School" at Bergen. Eighteen years old he became a student at the
University of Copenhagen. Two years later he became a student of
theology. Lack of means compelled him to return to Bergen as a private
tutor. But he soon determined to travel, and with a small sum of money
he set out for Amsterdam. After considerable sickness and misfortune he
returned to Norway. In 1706 there followed a journey to England, where
two years were spent, largely in study at Oxford. Later he made four
other journeys to foreign countries. Two years were spent in France, and
about a year in Italy.

What were the conditions under which Holberg grew up? And what did he
experience abroad? Turning to Denmark we find the religious, political
and educational status very low. We can get an idea of the prevailing
nature of government when we learn that Christian the Sixth was spoken
of in a university address as a king whom God himself "fills with his
wisdom, honors with his friendship, strengthens by his teachings,
satisfies with his communications, perfects with Divine power, a man
with whom he shares His creative strength, one who is beautified by
God's image," and "whose plans evolve from the thoughts of the

In the religious field, conditions were no better. Intolerance and
persecution were the rule. He who dared depart from the dry orthodox
dogmas was promptly dealt with by law. Coupled with this intolerance was
a huge mass of superstition that hung as a depressing cloud over the
people. An eclipse, a comet or some strange phenomenon was believed to
portend some dire manifestation of the wrath of heaven and bespoke as a
certainty the judgment of God! Belief in witch-craft was common. Only
fourteen years before Holberg's birth, seven witches were burned at one
time in Christiania.

The theology of the day was such as to hinder educational activity.
There was only one student of law, for instance, to several hundred
students of theology. A little philosophy was taught, but chiefly to aid
in carrying on meaningless theological dissertations.

During Holberg's youth the social and literary conditions in Denmark
were slavishly dependent upon those of foreign countries. Latin was the
approved literary language. The new nobility was largely German,
consequently German was the language of the court. German was also
spoken to a great extent among the artisans and merchants as these
classes were largely of the same origin as the nobility. Those of the
middle class who aspired to social distinction necessarily wore powdered
wigs and spoke French. These conditions limited the use of the mother
tongue to the farmers, the fishermen and the lower classes, whose work
was frowned at and whose social condition was as wretched as it was

Holberg, however, soon acquired different ideas of government religion
and education, of social customs and of literature than those described.
He did not believe that the Scriptures were at variance with all other
doctrines except that of "divine right." He believed in a monarchial
government, but his theory was that government should be a contract
between ruler and people as it was in England and Holland. This was the
first time such a doctrine was taught in Denmark.

Religious compulsion and persecution was also vigorously opposed by
Holberg. He knew but one kind of justifiable fanaticism he said, and
that was fanaticism against the spirit of religious intoleration. The
prevalent belief in witch-craft, too, was a subject against which
Holberg frequently directed his satire.

As far as science and philosophy is concerned, it is sufficient to say
that he was guided by the English philosophers of the time who held that
experience was the safest guide to knowledge. In Holland he was
influenced by Pierre Bayle and LeClerc. In France, Montesquieu,
Montaigne, and Moliere were his teachers, while in Germany he was not
influenced to any great extent.

Holberg's great work consisted in what he did to better the condition of
the common people and to popularize the Danish language. But what was
the reason that Holberg was able to take the most desirable teachings
and customs, from England, France and Holland, and introduce them among
the Scandinavian people? To begin with we must remember that his
childhood was spent in Norway's most cosmopolitan city, Bergen. This
gave him his desire to travel. His contact with people of wide
experience in many different countries would certainly not lessen his
liberal tendencies. Then too while at first his journeys were caused by
mere curiosity, he soon determined to travel for a purpose. He wished to
teach his countrymen. When abroad he made careful observations. Foreign
customs were constantly compared with those of Denmark and Norway. But
though he was liberal, he knew the art of moderation. While much that
was foreign could be used to good advantage, there was also a great deal
that was undesirable. His judgments were remarkably free. They were
founded on his own observations, not on the opinion of others. His
liberal, cosmopolitan views his keen critical discernment, his energy
and application in his work account for his far reaching influence.

There remains for us to notice how the people were influenced by the
work of this man. Holberg wrote for and about the common people. But in
all his writings we observe his remarkable moderation. He knew that if
he were to begin his educational campaign by an open attack on
prevailing conditions, too much opposition would be the result. He
sought the confidence and good will of the reader, and then by his
wealth of wit and satire the reader was led to laugh at his own faults.
But it was not enough to tear down; construction was as necessary as
destruction. The satirical poems, such as "Klim's Underground Journey"
and "Peder Paars" brought the people's faults to view, but desirable
virtues to take their place were just as effectively presented in his
"Epistles" and "Moral Thoughts," virtues which were also exemplified in
the author's private life.

Holberg's writings created a proper recognition of the mother-tongue,
and awakened a new interest in reading especially among the middle and
poorer classes. His writings created in the people an interest in
themselves and in their land, such as they had not possessed before. It
taught them to cherish the best that was Danish, to substitute the
sturdy noble products of their own land for the ephemeric forms which
ignorance and slavish imitation had brought from foreign countries. It
helped them to realize themselves and it gave them prospects for a
bright future as a nation. In Ludvig Holberg we see today, not only the
founder of the Norwegian-Danish literature, the satirical author of
"Peder Paars" or "Nils Klim's Underground Journey," not only a
philosopher and historian, but a teacher who impressed his individuality
on a whole people, and one whose influence as a mighty power for good is
felt today not only in Scandinavian literature, but in all Scandinavian
culture as well.

                                                       --MORRIS JOHNSON.


"Jeppe on the Hill" (Jeppe paa Bjerget) is probably the best known of
Holberg's many comedies. It was first presented in the Danish Theatre in
1722, and has since then been played times without number and with
continued appreciation. It is a plain picture of peasant life, with the
ludicrous side turned out, of course, but so faithful in detail and
comprehensive in character that it has become known as the best
expression of medieval conditions in the Scandinavian language, the
classic representation of the medieval peasant in northern Europe. The
plot of the play is briefly thus:

Jeppe, the principal character, is a poor oppressed peasant, abused by
his wife and trodden down by his superiors. We are introduced in the
opening scene to his wife, Nille, a veritable Xanthippe transplanted to
the eighteenth century. With her shrill voice and stout whip,--Master
Erik, by name,--she drives him out at an unreasonably early hour to go
an unreasonable long distance for an insignificant amount of soap. She
is, in fact, a true counterpart of Dame Van Winkle, wielding authority
over a poor, weak Rip. Without so much as a cup of coffee, he starts
with his dozen pence with which he is to make his purchase. On the way
he stops in at the rascally innkeeper's, Jakob Skomager's, who induces
the vacillating Jeppe to part little by little with his money until the
poor peasant finds himself "broke," and with nothing to show for his
departed coin but a "glorious drunk." After a soliloquy in which he
calls to mind his past life, especially his brief experience in the
army, he is overcome by his intoxication and falls in a drunken stupor
by the wayside. In this senseless condition he is found by his "liege
lord and master," the nobleman, and his servants. They decide to play a
joke on the fellow; they dress him in the baron's clothes, take him to
the castle and put him in the baron's bed, and then wait near by to see
the show.

When he awakes he is certainly the transformed--and perplexed--peasant.
He is quite overcome by the splendor of his surroundings, thinks at one
moment that he is in a dream, and next decides that he must be in
paradise; he calls for his wife, receives no reply, and wonders whether
he is really himself or someone else. He tries in vain to connect the
past with the present. When the uniformed servants answer his cry for
help the situation becomes comical indeed. When Jeppe is finally
convinced by servants and doctors that he is the baron, he assumes his
new role with a vengeance and begins by tyrannizing over the servants
and calling them to account. He does not forget to satisfy his desire
for good things to eat and drink and after some fast music and a dance
with the overseer's wife, he is overcome once more, this time by the
wines and excitement, and falls again into a stupor of intoxication. He
is dressed in his old clothes and put back on the dungheap where he
first was found. When he awakes he finds himself by the old familiar
wayside in all his old toggery,--plain "Jeppe on the Hill" once more. He
is now thoroughly convinced that he really was in paradise, and begins
to take another nap in the hope of again coming into his former glory,
but when his wife, Nille, steals up and administers a resounding whack
on his back with old Master Erik, he is convinced beyond a reasonable
doubt that he is in paradise no longer. The situation is further
complicated for poor Jeppe and made the more ludicrous to the spectators
when he is hauled before a magistrate for taking possession of the
baron's house and tyrannizing over his servants. At the mock trial,
which is one of the most humorous situations in the play, he stands
ready to embrace the lawyer who defends him while he is wishing he could
knock down or hang the lawyer who accuses him.

When he finds himself solemnly condemned to die by poison and hanging,
he implores in vain for pardon, asks for some whiskey to keep up his
courage, bids farewell to wife, family and dumb friends, and falls as
before into a deep stupor. As he gradually regains consciousness, it is
but to find himself hanging from the gallows,--by the arm pits, to be
sure, but looking dead enough to cause his wife a few brief moments of
remorse for her past treatment of her departed spouse. After he has been
sentenced to life again by the same court that sentenced him to death
before, the magistrate gives him four Rixdollars, a great sum for him,
and he finds himself again the same old "Jeppe." When at last he is
free, and the cause of his perplexities and bewildering metamorphoses
has been revealed to him in startling fashion by the irrepressible
Magnus, his chagrin is deep, indeed. The play closes after the old
fashion by the reappearance of the perpetrators, the baron and his
attendants, the former drawing the moral from the incident.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the simple plot of this immortal comedy. Now a few words as to
its significance. Jeppe, the hero and central figure of the play, is a
type of the oppressed, circumscribed, and despirited serf of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, despised by his superiors and
abused by his wife, drunken as an almost inevitable result of his
condition and mercilessly driven from his own home. Drink is practically
his only recourse and is to him the nearest and easiest approach to
happiness. It is as the eminent Danish critic, Brandes, suggests, a sort
of other life to Jeppe,--it is to him what music and poetry is to us.
What may we gather from his reminiscences as he calls them up in his
intoxication? His soldier days, his smattering of German, and his
campaigns are particularly vivid, and although the latter were probably
not especially glorious, they furnish him his proudest memories. Indeed
the most honorable words he could put in the mouth of the sexton as he
imagined him at his own funeral are those words so unspeakably comical,
that "he lived like a soldier and died like a soldier."

What does this peasant know, and where did he get his knowledge? The
source is not far to seek. His figures have the flavor of the stable and
the Bible and he is far more certain of his use of the former than of
the latter. He has also come by just enough of folklore to misapply
it, as note his reference to Abner and Roland. Who are his most intimate
friends? There is Mo'ns Christofferson who gives him excellent advice
which he fails to follow, but dearest of all is his dappled horse, a
trifle lazier, if such a thing is possible, than himself. But poor he
has always been, and while baron he shows that he knows to a much
greater degree than the baron himself the value of money; for though he
has, so far as he knows, more money than he has ever seen in all his
peasant days, he remains niggardly in his use of it even when he has all
he wants.

What is this man's highest idea of enjoyment, what does he demand when
his greatest wish can be fulfilled? Simply a good bed, fine clothes,
plenty to eat, sweet wine in abundance, many servants, and a handmaid.
If he has any greater ambition it would be to have more and better
things to eat and drink, and more and finer things to wear. It is but
natural that "he who works like a horse will enjoy himself like a dog."
With such ideals it is easy to see how he could imagine that he had been
suddenly transported into heaven. With the feeling that his lord's chief
business is to pilfer his hard-earned money; that the sexton is a
personage whose chief virtue is a powerful voice; and that lawyers and
magistrates are black-robed blackguards who juggle with equal facility
with justice and Latin phrases, we can see that Jeppe's idea of law and
authority was not very exalted. His highest idea of justice was embodied
in his toast, "God keep our friends, and may the devil take all our

Though he is a peasant he knows life and human nature and has, too, a
philosophy of life,--a philosophy which to him is his salvation. He does
not look on life in any bitter or hopeless way, yet he has that distrust
and suspicion so characteristic of the Danish peasant. He is always
master of the situation, and is cautious and sly enough never to allow
himself to be caught off his guard. He weeps in sheer gratitude when his
lawyer defends him, and he offers him a chew of his tobacco, but when
the lawyer answers that he did it from a sense of Christian charity he
answers, sarcastically, "I beg your pardon, Mr. Lawyer, I had not
thought you people were so honest." In the last act (Act V., Scene 2) we
see another illustration of his native shrewdness. When he has been
sentenced back to life we would naturally expect a profuse expression of
gratitude from Jeppe on his delivery from death. But when the judge says
to him, "Thank us, that we have been so gracious as to sentence you back
to life," Jeppe gives the unexpected answer that "if you had not hanged
me yourself, I should have been glad to thank you that you let me down

While a mere peasant he appears dull and common-place enough, but give
him the opportunity which he gets from the second act and on, and he
displays a surprising readiness in his efforts to solve the perplexing
problems he has had placed before him. The question of existence or
non-existence which he has to answer might well perplex a sage; but
while Jeppe is not quite able to unravel the situation, he makes rare
use of the powers of logic at his command. When at last he is asked to
face death, he does so with resignation, for he has not had much to be
thankful for in life. In the supposed hour of his death he turns, not to
the Bible of which he is so blissfully ignorant, but to that
never-failing comforter through life--the whiskey bottle. When he bids
farewell, as he supposes, to this world, he includes the whole circle of
his interest, and says, "Goodbye," and "Thanks for good company" to his
family and his animal friends, including his dappled horse, his faithful
dog, and even "Mo'ns," his black cat.

We have then in Jeppe a character furnishing on the one hand
entertainment to the young and light of heart, and on the other an
interesting study for the psychologist, the statesman, the socialist,
the historian and the philanthropist.

Thus the author has depicted through the various burlesque and humorous
situations of a comedy a concrete yet typical character, he has given us
the pathetic history of a poor, oppressed peasant, a whole human life
from the cradle to the grave.

                                                              --W. C. W.

Jeppe on the Hill


As played in the original language at the Metropolitan Theater, Grand
Forks, N. D., May 17, 1906.

  Jeppe on the Hill                John M. Anderson
  Nille, his wife                 W. C. Westergaard
  Baron Nilus                        Olger Burtness
  Secretary                             Henry Kyllo
  Valet                               Norris Nelson
  Erik, lackey                          Magnus Ruud
  Second lackey                    Bernhard Sandlie
  Jakob Skomager, innkeeper           Edward Hansen
  Two Doctors                     { Ingvold Knudson
                                  { Nels Dolve
  Overseer                              Reuben Stee
  Overseer's wife                           M. Ruud
  The Judge                          O. B. Burtness
  Two Lawyers                      { Martin B. Ruud
                                   { N. O. Dolve
  Magnus                                   H. Kyllo

    Armed men, attendants, etc.

The scene, a peasant village in Sealand, Denmark; time, about the year



Scene 1.

=Nille= (alone)--I don't believe there is such a lazy rascal in the whole
district as my husband. I can hardly wake him up when I pull him out of
bed by the hair. To-day the rascal knows that it is market day, but
still he lies and sleeps so long. Herr Paul said to me lately, "Nille,
you are too hard on your husband. He is and ought to be master of the
household." But I answered him, "No, my dear Herr Paul, if I should let
him boss this house for a single year then neither the landlord would
get his rent nor the rector his fee, since he would squander in drink
all that I have in the house. Should I let such a man rule this
household, who is ready to sell farm, wife, children--yes, even
himself--for drink?" Whereupon Herr Paul became silent and thoughtfully
stroked his chin. The overseer of the estate sides with me and says,
"Little woman, don't you mind what the preacher says. Although the
ritual says that you must honor and obey your husband, your lease, which
is newer than the ritual, says that you must keep up your place and pay
your rent, which it would be impossible for you to do if you did not
drag your old man out of bed by the hair every morning and drive him to
work." Just now I jerked him out of bed and went out to the barn to see
how the work was getting on, and when I came back he was sitting with
his trousers over one leg, and so the switch had to be taken off the peg
and my good old Jeppe dressed down until he became quite awake again.
The only thing he is afraid of is Master Erick, (that is what I call the
switch.) Hey, Jeppe, aren't you up yet, you lazy bones? Would you like
to speak with Master Erik once more? Hey, Jeppe, come out!

Scene 2.

=Jeppe=--I must have time to put on my clothes, mustn't I? You don't want
me to come out like a pig without trousers and without coat.

=Nille=--Haven't you had time, you wretch, to put on ten pairs of trousers
since I woke you up this morning?

=Jeppe= (cautiously)--Have you put Master Erik away, Nille?

=Nille=--Yes, I have, but I know where I can find him again, if you don't
get around in a hurry. Come here! See how he crawls along! Come here!
You've got to go to town to buy two pounds of soft soap; here is the
money. But listen! If you are not back again inside of four hours Master
Erik shall dance a polka on your back.

=Jeppe=--How can I walk four miles in four hours?

=Nille=--Who says you are to walk, you rascal? You shall run! I have told
you what to do once, now do as you please.

Scene 3.

=Jeppe= (alone)--There that sow goes in to eat breakfast, and I, poor man,
must walk four miles before I can get anything to eat; can anyone have
such a damned woman as I have? I really believe she is a cousin to
Lucifer. Folks around here say that Jeppe drinks, but they don't say why
Jeppe drinks; why, I never got so many poundings in the ten years I was
in the army as I get every day from that awful woman. She pounds me, the
overseer drives me to work like a beast; and the sexton pays court to my
wife. Mustn't I drink, mustn't I use all the means nature has given us
to drive away sorrow? If I were a fool, such things wouldn't trouble me
so much, and then I wouldn't drink; but it is certain that I am a clever
man, and therefore I feel such things more than others, so I must drink.
My neighbor, Mo'ns Christopherson, often tells me, as he is my friend:
"Confound you, Jeppe, why don't you defend yourself, then the old woman
will come to her senses." But I can't strike back for three reasons.
First, because I haven't any courage; second, because of that damned
Master Erik hanging behind the bed, which my back cannot think of
without crying; third, because I am, if I do say it myself, a good sort
of soul and a good Christian, who never seeks revenge. I am so
kind-hearted that I have never even wished that the old woman would die.
On the contrary, when she lay sick of jaundice last year, I wished that
she would live; for, as hell is already full of bad women, Lucifer would
probably send her back, and then she would be still worse than before.
But if the sexton died, then I would be glad, for my own sake as well as
for others; since he does me only harm and is of no use to the
congregation. He is an ignorant devil, for he has no voice at all for
singing, nor can he cast an honest wax candle. No, then his predecessor,
Christopher, was a different sort of a person. He beat twelve sextons at
singing in his day, such a voice had he. One time I got into a quarrel
with the deacon, while Nille was listening, and when he scolded me for
being run by my wife, I said: "The devil take you, Sexton Mads." But
what happened? Master Erik was taken from the wall to settle the quarrel
and my back got so sore that I had to beg the sexton's pardon and thank
him, mind you, that he, a learned man, would honor my house by his
visits. Since that time I have never thought of making any opposition.
Oh, yes, yes, Mo'ns Christopherson! You and other peasants whose wives
have no Master Erik hanging behind the bed, can talk like that. If I had
a single wish in the world it would be either that my wife had no arms
or I no back; since she may use her tongue as much as she likes. But
I'll have to stop in at Jakob Skomager's on the way. He'll give me a
penny's worth of brandy on credit all right; for I must have something
to quench my thirst. Hey, Jakob Skomager! Are you up yet? Open the door,

Scene 4.

  Jakob Skomager (in his shirt). Jeppe.

=Jakob=--Who the devil comes here so early?

=Jeppe=--Good morning, Jakob Skomager.

=Jakob=--Thank you, Jeppe! You're around pretty early to-day.

=Jeppe=--Give me a penny worth of brandy, Jakob.

=Jakob=--Very well, hand me the penny.

=Jeppe=--You'll get that to-morrow when I come back.

=Jakob=--Jakob Skomager doesn't sell whiskey on credit; you have a penny
or two, I know.

=Jeppe=--The devil I have, Jakob! Except a few shillings my wife gave me
to buy soap for in town.

=Jakob=--I know you can beat down the price a couple of pence; what is
your purchase, Jeppe?

=Jeppe=--I am to buy two pounds of soft soap.

=Jakob=--Why, can't you say that you gave a couple pence more per pound
than you paid?

=Jeppe=--I'm so afraid that my wife will find it out, and then bad luck to

=Jakob=--Pshaw! How'll she find that out? Can't you swear that you spent
all your money? You're a dunce.

=Jeppe=--True enough, Jakob, that's what I can do.

=Jakob=--Give me the penny then.

=Jeppe=--There! but you must give me back a ha'penny.

=Jakob= (comes with a glass and drinks Jeppe's health). Your health,

=Jeppe= (looks at glass)--You drank like a fish.

=Jakob=--Well! Don't you know it is customary for the host to drink to the
health of the guests?

=Jeppe=--I know; but may the devil take the one who first started that
custom! Your health, Jakob!

=Jakob=--Thanks, Jeppe! You will have to take something for the other
ha'penny, too. You can't bring it back. Or perhaps you want to have a
glass of whiskey to your credit when you come back from town. For, by my
faith, I haven't a single ha'penny.

=Jeppe=--The devil I will; if I must spend it, I'll do it now, for then I
can feel that I have something in my stomach; but if you drink of it,
too, I won't pay.

=Jakob=--Your health, Jeppe!

=Jeppe=--God keep our friends and the devil take all our enemies! Ah, that
felt good!

=Jakob=--Happy journey, Jeppe!

=Jeppe=--Thanks, Jakob Skomager!

Scene 5.

=Jeppe= (alone, becomes happy and begins to sing)--

  "A white hen and a speckled hen
  They started to fight the cock, etc."

Ah! If only I dared to drink another penny's worth! Ah! if I only dared
to drink just one more penny's worth! I believe I'll do it. No, I will
be sorry if I do. Could I only get away from the inn then there would be
no trouble, but there seems to be some one that holds me back. I must go
in again. But what are you doing, Jeppe? I seem to see Nille standing
before me with Master Erik in her hand. I must turn back. Ah! if I only
dared drink one more penny's worth! My stomach says, you shall; my back,
you shall not; which shall I then obey? Is not my stomach more important
than my back? I say yes. Shall I knock? Hey! Jakob Skomager, come
out!--but that damned woman comes to my mind again! If only she would
strike so my back didn't hurt so bad, I wouldn't mind it at all; but she
hits me like--Ah! God held me, poor man, what shall I do? Restrain
yourself, Jeppe! Isn't it a shame that you should make yourself
miserable for the sake of a glass of rotten whiskey? No, it sha'n't
happen this time,--I must away. Ah! if I only dared to drink one more
penny's worth. It was my bad luck that I first got a taste for it; now I
can't get away. Get there, legs! Blast you if you don't go! No, the
rascals will not, they want to go back to the inn; my limbs make war
upon each other. Will you go, you dogs! you beasts! you rap-scallions!
No, the devil take them, they want to go back to the inn; I have more
trouble with my legs, to make them go away from the inn than to get my
piebald mare out of the stable. Ah! if I only dared to drink one single
penny's worth more! Who knows if Jakob Skomager won't trust me for a
penny or two if I ask him real nice. Hey, Jakob! Another whiskey for

Scene 6.

  Jakob. Jeppe.

=Jakob=--Hello, Jeppe! Have you come back? I knew you didn't get enough.
What does one glass amount to? That will hardly wet the throat.

=Jeppe=--Sure enough, Jakob! Gi' me another glass! (aside) When I once
have drunk it, then I guess he will have to trust me, whether he wants
to or not.

=Jakob=--Here's the drink, Jeppe, but the money first.

=Jeppe=--I s'pose you can trust me while I drink, as the old saying goes.

=Jakob=--We don't care for any old sayings here, Jeppe! If you won't pay
in advance you'll not get a drop. We have sworn off trusting anybody,
even the overseer himself.

=Jeppe= (weeping)--Can't you trust me, I am an honest man?

=Jakob=--No credit, Jeppe.

=Jeppe=--Take the money then, you rascal!. Now it is done, drink now,
Jeppe! (drinks). Ah! that feels good.

=Jakob=--Yes, that's the kind of stuff to warm a fellow's inside!

=Jeppe=--The best thing about whiskey is that it gives a man such spirit.
Now I think neither of my wife nor Master Erik, so changed have I become
after the last glass. Do you know this song, Jakob? (Sings.)

  Little Kirsten and Herr Peder they sat at the table, Peteheia,
  A spoke so many a jesting word, Polemeia.
  In the summer sing the merry starling, Peteheia,
  May the devil take Nille, the wicked wench, Polemeia,
  I took a walk in bright green wood, Peteheia,
  The sexton, he is a rascally dog, Polemeia,
  I seated myself on my dapple gray horse, Peteheia,
  The sexton, he is a downright beast, Polemeia,
  But, if you will know the name of my wife, ----!

I wrote that song myself, Jakob!

=Jakob=--The devil you did!

=Jeppe=--Jeppe is not so stupid as you think. I have also made a song
about the shoemaker which runs thus:

  The Shoemaker with his fiddle and his drum, Philebom, Philebom.

=Jakob=--Why, you fool, that's a song for fiddlers.

=Jeppe=--Yes, sure enough. Look here, Jakob. Give me another dram!

=Jakob=--Good, now I can see that you are a fine fellow and don't begrudge
my house an honest penny.

=Jeppe=--Hey, Jakob! Just give me for tuppence.

=Jakob=--Very well!

=Jeppe= (sings again)--

  The earth drinks up the water,
    The sea drinks up the sun;
  The sun drinks up the ocean,
    Everything drinks in this world.
  Why should I not then
    Drink with all the rest?

=Jakob=--Your health, Jeppe!

=Jeppe=--Mir zu.

=Jakob=--Good luck with half of it!

=Jeppe=--Ich tank ju, Jakob! Drik man, datt dig di Dyvel haal, datt ist
dig vel undt.

=Jakob=--I hear you can talk German, Jeppe.

=Jeppe=--Sure, that's nothing new, but I don't usually talk it except when
I'm drunk.

=Jakob=--Then you surely talk at least once a day.

=Jeppe=--I have been in the army ten years and should I not know my own

=Jakob=--Why, that's right, Jeppe! We were in the same campaign for two

=Jeppe=--Sure enough, I remember now. You were hung, weren't you, when you
deserted at Wismar?

=Jakob=--I was to have been hanged, but was pardoned. "There is many a
slip between the cup and the lip."

=Jeppe=--It is too bad that you weren't hanged, Jakob; but weren't you
along in that action which took place on the plain--well, you know

=Jakob=--Ah! where haven't I been along?

=Jeppe=--I'll never forget the first volley the Swedes fired. I believe
there fell three thousand if not four thousand men at one time. (Hic.)
Dasz ging fordyvelet zu, Jakob. Du kandst wohl das ihukommen; ich kann
nich negten dat ik jo bange var in dat slag.

=Jakob=--Yes, yes, death is pretty hard to meet; a fellow is so pious when
he meets the enemy.

=Jeppe=--Yes, quite true; I don't know how it was, but I lay and read the
whole night before the action in David's "Psalter."

=Jakob=--I wonder that you who have been a soldier will let your wife
tyrannize over you the way she does.

=Jeppe=--I! If I only had her here! Then you would see how I should pound
her! One more glass, Jakob! I have eight pence left yet! (Aside) When I
have drunk them up, I shall drink on credit. Give me a mug of beer on

    In Leipsig was a man,
    In Leipsig was a man,
    In Leipsig was a good for nix,
    In Leipsig was a good for nix,
  The man he took himself a wife, etc.,
    In Leipsig was a man.

=Jakob=--Your health, Jeppe!

=Jeppe=--Hey! He--y! He--Here's to you and to me and to all good friends!

=Jakob=--Don't you want to drink the overseer's health?

=Jeppe=--Very well; give me another penny's worth. The overseer is a
decent sort of fellow. When we put a dollar in his hand he will swear by
his soul before his master that we cannot pay our land rent. I'll be
hanged, if I have any money left--you will give me a few drinks more on
credit, won't you?

=Jakob=--No, Jeppe, you can't stand any more now. I'm not the fellow who
will allow his guests to overdo things in his house and let them drink
more than is good for them. I would rather lose my living, for it is a

=Jeppe=--Hey, one more drink.

=Jakob=--No, Jeppe, now I won't give you any more; remember that you have
a long way to go.

=Jeppe=--Dog! Scoundrel! Beast! Rascal! Hey! He--y!

=Jakob=--Goodbye, Jeppe! happy journey!

Scene 7.

=Jeppe= (alone)--Ah, Jeppe, you are as full as a tick! My legs will hardly
carry me. Will you stand, you rascals, or won't you? Hey, there, what
time is it! Hey, Jakob, villain, scoundrel. Hey! Just one more drink!
Will you stand, you dogs? No, the devil take me if they will stand.
Thanks, Jakob Skomager. Let's have another! Listen, comrade! Where's the
road to the town? Stand, I tell you! Look, the beast is drunk. You drank
like a toper, Jakob. Do you call that a drink of whiskey--you measure
like a Turk.

(While he is speaking he falls and remains lying.)

Scene 8.

  Baron Nilus. His Secretary. A Valet. Two Lackeys.

=Baron=--The prospects for a good crop are very promising. Just see how
nice the barley stands.

=Secretary=--Yes, that is quite true, your Grace; but that means that a
bushel of barley will not bring a higher price than five marks.

=Baron=--That makes no difference. The peasants always do better when the
times are good.

=Secretary=--I don't know how it is, my lord, the peasants always complain
and ask for seed grain whether the season is good or bad. When they have
anything they drink all the more. Here is an innkeeper in the
neighborhood by the name of Jakob Skomager who does much to make the
peasants poor. They say that he puts salt in the beer so that the more
they drink, the more they shall thirst.

=Baron=--We must get that fellow out of the way. But what is that lying
there in the road? Why, that's a dead man. One hears of nothing but
accidents. Run over there, one of you, and see what it is.

=A lackey=--That is Jeppe on the Hill, who has the shrewish wife. Wake up,
Jeppe. No, he wouldn't wake up if we pounded him and pulled him around
by the hair.

=Baron=--Just let him be, I would like to play a little trick on him. You
used to be quite inventive fellows, can you devise something now to
amuse me?

=Secretary=--It seems to me it would be clever if we tied a paper collar
around his neck or clipped his hair.

=The valet=--It seems to me that it would be even more clever if we daubed
his face with ink and stationed someone to see how his wife would
receive him when he came home in such a predicament.

=Baron=--That's all very well, but what will you wager that Erik can
devise something more clever than that? Give us your opinion, Erik!

=Erik, lackey=--It is my opinion that his clothes should all be taken off
and that he should be laid in my lord's best bed, and in the morning
when he awakes we should all act as though he were the lord of the
manor, so that he should not know who or where he was. And when we have
made him believe that he is the baron, we should make him as drunk again
as he now is and lay him, in his old clothes, on the same dung heap. If
this plan is carefully executed, it would have a strange effect and he
would make himself believe either that he had dreamed about such glories
or that he had really been in Paradise.

=Baron=--Erik, you are a great man and therefore you have only great
ideas. But now if he should wake up in the meantime?

=Erik=--I am very sure that he will not, my lord. Since the same Jeppe on
the Hill is one of the soundest sleepers in the whole district. Why,
they tried the other year to fasten a rocket to the back of his neck,
but even when the rocket was fired off he didn't wake up from his sleep.

=Baron=--Let us then proceed. Take him away immediately, clothe him in a
fine shirt and lay him in my best bed.



Scene 1.


(Jeppe is represented lying in the Baron's bed, a gold embroidered
dressing gown on a chair; he awakes, rubs his eyes, looks around and
becomes frightened; rubs his eyes again, feels of his head and finds a
gold embroidered nightcap; he moistens his eyelids, rubs them again,
turns the nightcap around and examines it, looks at his fine shirt, at
the robe, at everything, with strange grimaces. Meanwhile soft music is
heard, at which Jeppe folds his hands and weeps; when the music stops he
begins to speak.)

But what is this? What sort of splendor is this and how have I come
here? Do I dream, or am I awake? No, I am quite awake. Where is my wife,
where are my children, where is my house, and where is Jeppe? Everything
is changed, myself, too. Ah, what can it be? What can it be? (He calls
softly and fearfully.) Nille! Nille! Nille! I believe that I have got
into Heaven, Nille, and that without deserving it. But, can it be me? It
seems to me it is; then again, it seems to me it isn't. When I feel of
my back, which is still sore from the blows I got, when I hear myself
speak, when I feel of my hollow tooth, it seems to me that it's me.
When, on the other hand, I look at my cap, my shirt, and on all the fine
things before me, and hear the beautiful music, I'll be hanged if I can
get it into my head that it's me. No, it isn't me. I am a scoundrel a
thousand times if it's me! But I wonder if I am dreaming. It doesn't
seem so. I'll try to pinch my arm; if it doesn't hurt, then I dream; if
it hurts, then I don't dream.--Yes, I felt it, I am awake; to be sure I
am awake; no one can deny that. Because if I were not awake I could
not--but how can I be awake when I stop to think? It cannot fail then
that I am Jeppe on the Hill; I certainly know that I am a poor peasant,
a serf, a rascal, a scoundrel, a hungry maggot, a poor worm! But how can
I at the same time be king and lord of the castle? No, it must be only a
dream. Therefore, it is best to have patience till I wake up. (The
music is again heard and Jeppe begins to cry.) Ah! But can a person hear
such things in his sleep? That is impossible! But if it is a dream, then
I wish that I may never wake up again, and if I am mad, then may I never
become sane; for I should sue the doctor who cured me and curse him who
woke me up. But I neither dream nor am mad, for I can remember my whole
life. I remember that my sainted father was Niels on the Hill, my
grandfather, Jeppe on the Hill, my wife's name is Nille, her switch,
Master Erik, my sons, Hans, Christopher and Niels. But see! Now I know:
it is the other life, it is paradise, it is heaven! I must have drunk
too much yesterday at Jakob Skomager's, died and immediately come to
heaven. Death cannot be so awful as they would make one believe, since I
didn't even feel it. Now, perhaps, Herr Jesper is standing this minute
in the pulpit making a funeral sermon over my body and saying: Such was
the end of Jeppe on the Hill; he lived like a soldier and died like a
soldier. Of course, one might question whether I died on land or sea,
since I went out of the world pretty well soaked. Ah, Jeppe, this is
something different from going four miles to town to buy soap, from
lying on straw and from getting whipped by your wife. Ah! To what bliss
have not your suffering and dark days been transformed? Ah! I must weep
from joy when I think that this has come to me through no merit of my
own. But one thing comes to my mind: I am so thirsty that my lips are
nearly parched. If I should wish myself alive again, it would be only
that I might get a mug of beer to quench my thirst; for what good does
all this glory do me when I must die again of thirst? I remember the
preacher has often said that one neither hungers nor thirsts in heaven
and further that one finds there all his deceased friends. But I am
nearly dying from thirst. I am also quite alone; I don't see a soul. I
ought to find my grandfather at least, who was such a decent person that
he never left a shilling of debt to his landlord. Of course, I know that
many people have lived just as decent lives as I have, why, then,
should I alone come to heaven? Therefore, it can't be heaven. But what
can it be? I am not asleep, I am not awake; I am not dead, I am not
alive; I am not crazy, I am not sane; I am Jeppe on the Hill, I am not
Jeppe on the Hill; I am poor, I am rich; I am a poor peasant, I am a
king. Ah!--Ah!--Ah! Help! Help! Help!

(At the great commotion several people come in who in the meantime have
stood by, watching to see how he would act.)

Scene 2.

  Valet. A lackey. Jeppe.

=Valet=--I wish your lordship a hearty good morning! Here's a gown if your
lordship wishes to arise. Erik, fetch a towel and a wash basin.

=Jeppe=--Ah, my worshipful valet! I should be glad to arise, but I beg of
you that you do not hurt me.

=Valet=--The Lord deliver me from doing your lordship any harm!

=Jeppe=--Ah, before you kill me, will you not do me the favor to tell me
who I am?

=Valet=--Does not my lord know who he is?

=Jeppe=--Yesterday I was Jeppe on the Hill, but to-day--ah, I hardly know
what to say!

=Valet=--We are glad to see that your lordship is in such good humor
to-day, that you are pleased to jest; but heaven defend us, why does
your lordship weep?

=Jeppe=--I am not your lordship. I can make my oath that I am not; for so
far as I can remember I am Jeppe Nielsen on the Hill, one of the Baron's
peasants. If you will send for my wife you shall find it out; but don't
let her take Master Erik along.

=Erik, lackey=--This is strange. What can it be? Your lordship cannot be
awake, since you never used to jest in this way.

=Jeppe=--Whether I am awake or not I cannot say; but one thing I can say
and that is that I am one of the Baron's peasants who is called Jeppe on
the Hill, and I have never been either Baron or Count in my life.

=Valet=--Erik, what can that be? I am afraid that his lordship is
suffering from some strange disease.

=Erik=--I imagine that he is walking in his sleep, since it frequently
happens that people arise, dress, eat and drink in their sleep.

=Valet=--No, Erik, I perceive that his lordship is delirious. Go and fetch
a doctor immediately. Ah, your lordship, put all such thoughts away;
your lordship is frightening the whole house. Does your lordship not
know me?

=Jeppe=--I don't know myself; how can I then know you?

=Valet=--Ah, is it possible that I should hear such words from the lips of
my gracious lord, and see him in such a pitiable condition? Ah, our
unfortunate house, which must be plagued by such sorcery! Can my lord
not remember what he did yesterday when he was out on the hunt?

=Jeppe=--I have never been either hunter or poacher in my life; you know
that is work which may send you to prison! Never shall any soul be able
to prove that I have ever hunted a hare on the lord's estate!

=Valet=--Ah, gracious lord, I was with you on the hunt myself yesterday.

=Jeppe=--Yesterday I sat at Jakob Skomager's and drank up twelve pence
worth of whiskey. How could I then have been on a hunt?

=Valet=--Ah, I implore my gracious lord on my knees that he do not indulge
in such talk. Erik, were the doctors sent for?

=Erik=--Yes, they are coming soon.

=Valet=--Let us assist our lord in putting on his dressing gown. Perhaps
when he comes out in the fresh air it will be better. Does our lord wish
to have on his gown?

=Jeppe=--Most willingly. You may do with me what you like, if only you do
not take my life, for I am as innocent as an unborn babe.

Scene 3.

  A valet. Erik. Jeppe. Two doctors.

=First Doctor=--We hear with great regret that your lordship is

=Valet=--Alas, yes, doctor; he is in a pitiful state.

=Second Doctor=--How is everything with you, my gracious lord?

=Jeppe=--Quite well! Except that I am rather thirsty after the whiskey
which I got at Jakob Skomager's yesterday. If you will only give me a
mug of beer and let me go, then they may hang you two doctors up for all
I care, because I don't need any medicine.

=First Doctor=--That is certainly a clear case of hallucinations.

=Second Doctor=--But the more violent the disease is the sooner he will
get over it. Let us feel our lordship's pulse. Quid tibi videtur, domine

=First Doctor=--I am not of that opinion. Such strange weaknesses must be
cured in another fashion. Our lordship has had an awful and gruesome
dream, which has brought the blood into such commotion and so confused
his brain that he imagines himself a peasant. We must try to divert him
with the things in which he finds the most pleasure; give him the wines
and foods which suit him best, and play for him his favorite pieces of

(Lively music begins.)

=Valet=--Why, that is my lord's favorite piece.

=Jeppe=--Perhaps so. Do you always have such fun in this place?

=Valet=--As often as your lordship wishes; since it is you who gives us
our wages.

=Jeppe=--But it is strange that I cannot remember what I have done in the

=First Doctor=--That is the result of the sickness, your lordship, that
one forgets everything that he has done before. I recollect that one of
my neighbors a few years ago became so delirious from strong drink that
he made himself believe for two days that he had no head.

=Jeppe=--I wish that Christopher, the bailiff, would get the same idea,
but he must have a sickness which is just opposite to this; since he
imagined that he has a big head, while he really has none at all, as one
can see from his decisions.

(They all laugh at this: Ha, ha, ha.)

=Second Doctor=--It is a pleasure to hear our lordship jest. But to come
back to the story again, that same person went all over town and asked
people if they had found his head, which he had lost, but he got well
again and is at this day sexton in Jutland.

=Jeppe=--He might be that, even if he had not found his wits again.

(All laugh: Ha, ha, ha.)

=First Doctor=--Does my colleague remember the story of what happened ten
years since to the man who imagined that his head was full of flies? He
could not get rid of the notion no matter how much one argued with him,
until a shrewd doctor cured him in this wise: He laid a plaster covered
with dead flies on his head, and after some time he pulled it off,
showed it to the patient, made him believe that they had been extracted
from his head, whereupon the patient became well again.

=Second Doctor=--There are innumerable examples of such illusions. I
remember also of having heard of one who made himself believe that his
nose was ten feet long and warned everyone whom he met not to come too
near to him.

=First Doctor=--That is what is the matter with our gracious lord. He
imagines that he is a poor peasant. But he must get rid of such
thoughts, then he will soon become well again.

=Jeppe=--But can it be possible that it is only imagination?

=First Doctor=--Certainly! Your lordship has heard from these stories what
imagination can do.

=Jeppe=--Am I not then Jeppe on the Hill?

=Second Doctor=--No, certainly not.

=Jeppe=--Is the wicked Nille not my wife?

=First Doctor=--By no means, since my lord is a widower.

=Jeppe=--Is it then nothing but imagination that she has a switch called
Master Erik?

=Second Doctor=--Purely imagination.

=Jeppe=--Is it then not true that I was to go to town yesterday to buy

=First Doctor=--No.

=Jeppe=--Nor yet, that I drank up all the money at Jakob Skomager's?

=Valet=--Why, my lord was with us on a hunt all day yesterday.

=Jeppe=--Nor yet that I am henpecked?

=Valet=--Why, your wife has been dead for many years.

=Jeppe=--Ah, I am beginning to understand my weakness. I will not think of
that peasant any longer, for I see that it is nothing but a dream and a
mistake. Isn't it strange though how a person can fall into such an

=Valet=--Will it please your lordship to take a walk in the garden while
we prepare a little breakfast?

=Jeppe=--To be sure, but see that you are quick about it, for I am both
hungry and thirsty.



Scene 1.

  Jeppe. Valet. Secretary.

(Jeppe comes in from the garden with his suite and a little table is
spread before him.)

=Jeppe=--Ha! Ha! I see the table is already set.

=Valet=--Yes, everything is ready whenever it shall please your lordship
to be seated.

(Jeppe seats himself. The others stand back of the chair and laugh at
his awkwardness when he reaches his hand into the dish, hiccoughs over
the table, and behaves very boorishly.)

=Valet=--Will my lord let us know what wine he wishes?

=Jeppe=--You know very well yourselves what wine I am used to drinking in
the morning.

=Valet=--It is Rhenish wine which his lordship is accustomed to drink. If
it is not to his lordship's taste he can have another kind.

=Jeppe=--It is pretty sour. You must put some mead in it to make it good,
for I like sweet things.

=Valet=--Here is some Canary sack, if my lord wishes to taste it.

=Jeppe=--That is good wine. Let's all drink together! (Every time he
drinks the trumpets blow.) Hey! Watch out, fellows! One more glass of
sack! Do you understand? Where did you get that ring that you have on
your finger?

=Secretary=--Your lordship gave it to me yourself.

=Jeppe=--I don't remember that. Give it back to me, I must have done that
while drunk. One doesn't give such rings away. I'll have to look into
this and see what other things you have received. Servants shall not
have more than board and wages! I swear that I do not remember of having
given you anything in particular; for why should I do it? That ring is
worth over a guinea. No, no, good fellows! Not so! You must not take
advantage of your master's weakness and drunkenness. When I am drunk I
am as likely as not to give my very trousers away; but when I have
become sober I take back my gifts again. Otherwise I should catch the
mischief from my wife, Nille. Hold, what am I saying? Now I am getting
into those foolish ideas again and don't remember who I am. Another
glass of sack. The same toast. (Trumpets blow again.) Listen to what I
say, fellows! After this, remember that when I give anything away in the
evening while drunk, you must give it back to me in the morning. When
servants get more money than they can spend they become proud and turn
up their noses at their masters. What are your wages?

=Secretary=--My lord has always given me two hundred a year.

=Jeppe=--You shall have the devil, not two hundred after this! What do you
do to earn two hundred? I myself must work like a beast and stand in the
granary from morning till evening and can hardly--See, now those peasant
notions are coming into my mind again! Give me another glass of wine.
(He drinks and the trumpets blow.) Two Rixdollars! Why that's simply to
skin your masters. Listen! Do you know what, you fellows! When I have
eaten I have a good mind to hang every other one on the estate. You must
know that I am not to be trifled with in money matters.

=Valet=--We will return everything that we have received from your

=Jeppe=--Yes, yes! Your lordship! Your lordship! Compliments and words are
cheap in these times. You will flatter me with "your lordship" until you
get all my money and become "my lordship" in turn. The lips may say,
"Your lordship," but the heart says, "You fool." You're not saying what
you think, fellows! You servants are just like Abner who came and
greeted Roland with, "Hail to thee, my brother!" and at the same time
struck the dagger in his heart. Believe me, Jeppe is no fool.

(They all fall on their knees and sue for pardon.)

=Jeppe=--Just rise again, my lads, until I have done eating; after that I
will see how matters stand, and who deserves to be hanged. Now, I will
be merry.

Scene 2.

  Jeppe. Valet. Overseer. Secretary.

=Jeppe=--Where is my overseer?

=Valet=--He is just outside.

=Jeppe=--Let him come in at once.

=Overseer= (enters dressed in a coat with silver buttons and a sash about
the waist)--Has my lord any commands?

=Jeppe=--None, except that you are to be hanged!

=Overseer=--I have done nothing wrong, my lord! Why should I be hanged?

=Jeppe=--Are you not the manager?

=Overseer=--Yes, I am, my lord.

=Jeppe=--And still you ask why you shall be hanged?

=Overseer=--You know I have served your lordship honestly and faithfully,
and been so diligent in my duties that your lordship has praised me
above your other servants.

=Jeppe=--Yes, to be sure you have taken good care of your office; one can
see that from your silver buttons,--what do you get a year?

=Overseer=--Fifty Rixdollars a year.

=Jeppe= (walks back and forth excitedly)--Half a hundred a year--yes, you
shall immediately be hanged.

=Overseer=--It could hardly be less, gracious lord, for a whole year's
hard work.

=Jeppe=--Just for that reason you shall be hanged, since you receive only
fifty Rixdollars! You have money for a silver buttoned coat, for lace
cuffs, a silk net for your hair, and still you get only fifty Rixdollars
per year! Is it not plain that you steal from me, poor man, or where
should it all come from?

=Overseer= (on his knees)--Ah, gracious lord, only spare me for the sake
of my poor wife and little children.

=Jeppe=--Have you many children?

=Overseer=--I have seven children living, my lord!

=Jeppe=--Ha, ha, seven living children? Away, hang him, secretary!

=Secretary=--Oh, gracious lord, I am no hangman!

=Jeppe=--What you are not, you may become; you look as though you were
equal to anything. When you have hanged him, I shall hang you afterwards

=Overseer=--Ah, gracious lord! Is there no pardon?

=Jeppe= (walks back and forth, sits down to take a drink and rises
again)--Half a hundred Rixdollars, wife and seven children. If no one
else will hang you I will do it myself. I know very well what sort of
fellows you are, you overseers; I know how you have treated me and other
poor peasants--Ah, now those cursed peasant notions are coming into my
head again. I mean to say I know the way you conduct yourselves so well
that I myself could be overseer if I had to. You get the cream of the
milk and the Baron gets--something else. I believe that if the world
lasts much longer overseers will become noblemen and noblemen,
overseers. When a peasant gives a little something to either you or your
wives, then when you come to your master the story is: that poor man is
willing and industrious enough, but various misfortunes have come on him
so he cannot pay; he has a bad piece of ground, his cattle have become
scabby, or something like that. With such talk the landlord must be
satisfied. Believe me, my good fellows, I don't let people lead me
around by the nose; since I myself am a peasant and the son of a
peasant--There, now that nonsense is coming into my mind again. I said I
myself am the son of a peasant, since Abraham and Eve, our first
parents, were peasants.

=Secretary= (kneels before him)--Ah, gracious lord, have pity on him for
his poor wife's sake, for otherwise, how will he be able to live and
support wife and children?

=Jeppe=--Who says they shall live? They can be hanged, too.

=Secretary=--Ah, my lord, she is such a fine looking woman.

=Jeppe=--Well, well, perhaps you are in love with her, since you take such
an interest in her. Let her come in.

Scene 3.

  Overseer's wife. Jeppe. The others.

(Wife comes in and kisses him on the hand.)

=Jeppe=--Are you the overseer's wife?

=Woman=--Yes, I am, gracious lord.

=Jeppe= (pats her on the cheek)--You are real nice. Won't you sit down at
the table with me?

=Woman=--My lord has only to command; I am at his service.

=Jeppe= (to the overseer)--Will you let your wife eat with me?

=Overseer=--I thank your lordship that you do me the honor.

=Jeppe=--See here, place a chair for her, she shall sit at the table with

(She seats herself at the table, eats and drinks with him; he becomes
jealous of the secretary and whenever he looks at him, the secretary
immediately looks the other way. He sings an old-fashioned love song
while they are sitting at the table. Jeppe orders the musicians to play
a polka and dances with her, but falls three times from drunkenness, and
the fourth time he remains lying and falls asleep.)

Scene 4.

  The Baron. The others.

=Baron= (who has hitherto played the part of secretary)--He sleeps soundly
already. Now the game is ours; but we came near being fooled ourselves,
for he was bound to tyrrannize over us, whereupon we either had to spoil
the joke, or allow ourselves to be maltreated by that rude peasant, from
whose conduct one may learn how tyrannical and proud such people may
become who through some accident or other achieve honor or position. My
disguising myself as a secretary came near being my misfortune, for if I
had allowed him to strike me it might have become a pretty serious
affair and have made me no less than the peasant, an object of ridicule.
We had better let him sleep a little now before we put him back in his
filthy peasant clothes.

=Erik=--Ah, my lord, he sleeps as sound as a stone. See here! I can pound
him without his feeling it.

=Baron=--Take him away, then, and complete the comedy.



Scene 1.

=Jeppe= (represented lying on a dung heap in his old peasant clothes,
awakes and cries:)--Hey, secretary! Valets! Lackeys! One more glass of
canaille sack! (Looks around and rubs his eyes, blinks as before, feels
of his head, looks at his old wide brimmed hat, turns the hat around on
all sides, looks at his clothes, recognizes himself, begins to speak.)
How long was Abraham in Paradise? Now I recognize to my sorrow,
everything, my bed, my coat, my old hat, myself; this is something else,
Jeppe, than drinking canaille sack from golden goblets and sitting at
table with lackeys and secretaries at one's command. Good luck never
lasts very long. Ah! Ah! to think that I who was such a gracious lord
only a short time ago should see myself in such a condition now; my
splendid bed changed to a dungheap, my gold embroidered cap to an old,
wornout hat, my lackeys to swine, and myself from a gracious lord to a
miserable peasant. I expected when I woke up to find my fingers bedecked
with rings, but they are (to speak reverently) bedecked with something
else. I expected to call my servants to account, but now I must myself
offer my own back for punishment when I come home and give an account of
myself. I thought when I woke to reach for a glass of sack, but got
instead something quite different. Ah! Ah! Jeppe, that stay in Paradise
was but short and your happiness soon came to an end. But who knows if
the same thing could not happen to me again if I lay down to rest once
more? Ah! ah! if it would only come to me again! Ah! if I could only get
back to Paradise. (Lies down to sleep again.)

Scene 2.

  Jeppe. Nille.

=Nille=--I wonder if something has happened to him? What can this mean?
Either the devil has taken him or (what I am more afraid of) he is
sitting in an inn and drinking up the money. I was a fool when I trusted
that drunkard with twelve pence at one time. But what do I see? Does he
not lie there in the filth snoring? Ah! poor me, who must have such a
beast of a husband! Your back shall pay dearly enough for this.

(Steals over to him and gives him a whack from Master Erik on the back.)

=Jeppe=--Hey! Hey! Help! Help! What is that? Where am I? Who am I? Who
hits me? Why do you hit me? Hey!

=Nille=--I shall soon teach you what it is. (Strikes him again and pulls
him around by the hair.)

=Jeppe=--Ah, Nille, my dear! Don't strike me any more, you don't know what
has happened to me.

=Nille=--Where have you been so long, you drunken dog? Where is the soap
you were to buy?

=Jeppe=--I could not get to town, Nille.

=Nille=--Why could you not get to town?

=Jeppe=--I was taken up to Paradise on the way.

=Nille=--To Paradise! (Strikes him.) To Paradise! (Strikes him again.) To
Paradise! (Strikes him again.) Are you going to make fun of me besides?

=Jeppe=--Ow! Ow! Ow! As sure as I am an honest man it is not true.

=Nille=--What is true?

=Jeppe=--That I have been in Paradise.

(Nille repeats, "In Paradise," and strikes him again.)

=Jeppe=--Ah, Nille, my dear, don't hit me any more.

=Nille=--Quick! Confess where you have been or I will murder you!

=Jeppe=--Ah, I would gladly confess where I have been if you would not
strike me any more.

=Nille=--Confess, then!

=Jeppe=--Swear that you will not strike me any more, then.


=Jeppe=--As true as I am an honest man and my name is Jeppe on the Hill, I
have been in Paradise and seen things that will make you wonder when you
hear them.

(Nille thrashes him again and drags him in by the hair.)


Scene 3.

=Nille= (alone)--There, you drunken beast! Sleep till you get sober, then
we shall talk further about this matter. Such swine as you are don't get
into Paradise. Only think how that beast has drunk his senses away! But
if he has been enjoying himself at my expense then he shall certainly
suffer for it. For two days he shall get neither food nor drink. Before
that time has passed he will get over his notions of Paradise.

Scene 4.

  Three armed men. Nille.

=First Soldier=--Is there a man living here by the name of Jeppe?

=Nille=--Yes, there is.

=Soldiers=--Are you his wife?

=Nille=--Yes, I am sorry to say. God help me!

=Soldiers=--We must see him.

=Nille=--He is quite drunk.

=Soldiers=--That makes no difference, away! Bring him out, or the whole
house will get into trouble.

(Nille goes in, kicks Jeppe out with such force that he knocks down all
three men.)

Scene 5.

  Three armed men. Jeppe.

=Jeppe=--Ah! Ah! Now you see, my good fellows, what kind of wife I have to
live with.

=Soldiers=--You don't deserve any other treatment, for you are a felon.
(They take Jeppe away.)

=Jeppe=--What harm have I done?

=Soldiers=--You shall find that out soon enough when the court is held.
(They bind him.)

Scene 6.

  Two lawyers. The judge. Jeppe.

(The judge comes in with an attendant and seats himself by a table,
while Jeppe is tied by the hands and brought before the court. One of
the lawyers steps forward and makes his charge thus:)

=First Lawyer=--Here is a man, your honor, who, we can testify, has stolen
into the Baron's house, pretended he was the Baron, put on his clothes,
tyrannized over his servants, which, since it is an outrageous act, we
insist, on behalf of our client that it should be punished severely, so
that other criminals may take warning from him.

=Judge=--Are you guilty of the offence which is charged against you? Speak
up. What have you to say in your own defence, for we do not wish to
judge until we hear both sides?

=Jeppe=--Ah, my poor soul! What shall I say? I admit that I have deserved
punishment, but only for the money which I drank up and which I was to
have bought soap with; I confess, also, that I have lately been at a
castle, but how I got there and how I got away from there, I do not

=Plaintiff (First Lawyer)=--Your honor hears from his own confession that
he has drunk to excess, and in his intoxication committed such an
unheard-of misdemeanor. And it now only remains to determine whether
such a serious crime can be excused on the ground of drunkenness. I say
no! Since if that is the case, no crime would be punished. Everyone
would be seeking some such excuse and say that it was done in
drunkenness; and even if he can prove himself to have been drunk, his
case will not thereby be improved; for it is a rule in law that what a
man does in drunkenness he shall be held responsible for when he becomes

=Defendant (Second Lawyer)=--Your honor! This matter appears so strange to
me that I can hardly believe it, even if there were more witnesses. How
could a guileless peasant steal in upon his lordship's estate, and
assume his position, without being able to assume his face or his form!
How could he come into my lord's sleeping-chamber? How could he get to
his wardrobe without some one seeing him? No, your honor, one can see
that it is a conspiracy hatched up by the poor man's enemies. I hope,
therefore, that he will be acquitted.

=Jeppe= (weeping)--Ah! God bless your lips! I have a plug of tobacco in my
pocket, if you would like some; it is good enough for any honest man.

=Second Lawyer=--No thanks, keep your tobacco, Jeppe. I am defending you
not for money or gifts but only from a sense of Christian charity.

=Jeppe=--I beg your pardon, Mr. Lawyer, I had not thought that lawyers
were so honest!

=First Lawyer=--That which my colleague adduces for the acquittal of this
felon is based entirely on guess work. The question in this case is not
whether it is probable that such a thing could occur, for it has already
been proved, by witnesses as well as by his own confession, that it did

=Second Lawyer=--What a man confesses through fear and intimidation cannot
be considered in law. I ask, therefore, that this poor man be given time
for reflection, and that he be asked the same questions once more.
Listen, Jeppe, mind now what you say. Do you confess that of which you
are accused?

=Jeppe=--No! I make my oath that everything which I have said before is a
lie; for I have not been out of my house for three days!

=First Lawyer=--Your honor, I am firmly of the opinion that anyone who has
first been proved guilty by witnesses, and later has confessed his own
misdeeds should not be permitted to make a sworn statement.

=Second Lawyer=--I say yes,--

=First Lawyer=--I say no!

=Second Lawyer=--When the case is of such a peculiar nature.

=First Lawyer=--No circumstances can prevail against witnesses and the
defendant's own confession.

=Jeppe= (aside)--Ah, if they could only get into a scrap with each other!
In the meantime I should get hold of the judge and pound him, so he
would forget both law and justice.

=Second Lawyer=--But listen, Herr Colleague! Although he confesses the
deed, he has not deserved punishment; for he has committed no crime on
the estate, neither murder nor robbery.

=First Lawyer=--That makes no difference; intentio furandi is the same as

=Jeppe=--Talk Danish, you dirty dog! Then we'll be able to defend
ourselves all right.

=First Lawyer=--For whether it is found that a person intends to steal, or
does steal, he is a thief.

=Jeppe=--Ah, my gracious judge, I should gladly be hanged, if that lawyer
could be hanged at my side.

=Second Lawyer=--Don't talk that way, Jeppe, you only injure your own
cause by it.

=Jeppe=--Why don't you answer, then? (Aside.) He stands there like a dumb

=Second Lawyer=--But how do you prove furandi propositum?

=First Lawyer=--Quicumque in aedes alienas noctu irrumpit, tanquam fur aut
nocturnus grassator existimandus est, atqui reus hic ita, ergo.

=Second Lawyer=--Nego majorem, qvod scilicit irruperit.

=First Lawyer=--Res manifesta est, tot legitimis testibus exstantibus, ac
confitenti reo.

=Second Lawyer=--Quicumque vi vel metu coactus fuerit confiteri--

=First Lawyer=--But where is that vis? Where is that metus? That is but

=Second Lawyer=--No, you are using chicane.

=First Lawyer=--No honest man shall accuse me of such a thing.

(The lawyers grapple, and Jeppe runs over and pulls the wig off the
first lawyer and strikes him on the head with it.)

=Judge=--Order in the courtroom! Stop, I have heard enough! (Reads his
verdict:) Whereas Jeppe on the Hill, son of Niels on the Hill, and
grandson of Jeppe from the same place, is proved by legal witnesses as
well as by his own confession to have surreptitiously entered the
Baron's castle, put on his clothes, and maltreated his servants, he is
condemned to die by poison, and when he is dead his body shall be hanged
on the gallows.

=Jeppe=--Ah! Ah! Gracious judge! Is there no pardon?

=Judge=--None. The sentence shall be executed immediately in my presence.

=Jeppe=--Ah! Won't you give me a glass of whiskey before I drink the
poison so that I can die like a soldier?

=Judge=--Yes, that is permitted.

=Jeppe= (drinks three glasses of whiskey, falls on his knees and
asks:)--Is there then no pardon?

=Judge=--No, Jeppe! It is too late now.

=Jeppe=--Ah! But it isn't too late! The judge can surely change the
sentence, and say that it was all wrong the first time. Why, that
happens often, for we are all human.

=Judge=--No, you shall feel yourself in a few minutes that it is too late;
for you have already taken the poison in the whiskey.

=Jeppe=--Ah, poor me! Have I already taken the poison? Ah, goodbye, Nille!
Still, you fiend, you don't deserve to have me bid you farewell; goodbye
Jens, Niels and Christoffer! Goodbye, my daughter Martha; goodbye, the
apple of my eye! You have your father's face; we look as much alike as
two drops of water. Goodbye, my dappled horse, and thanks for every time
I have ridden on you; next to my own children I have loved no beast as
much as you. Goodbye, Fairfax! My faithful dog and watch; goodbye Mo'ns,
my black cat! Goodbye, my oxen, my sheep, my hogs, and thanks for good
company and for every day I have known you. Goodbye--Ah! Now I can say
nothing more, I am so weak and helpless.

(Falls over and remains lying.)

=Judge=--It works well; the drugged liquor has already done its work; he
sleeps like a stone. Now hang him up; but see to it that he receives no
injury from it, and that the rope comes only under his arms. Now we
shall see how he acts when he awakes and finds himself hanging aloft.


Scene 1.

  Nille. Jeppe. Judge.

(Jeppe is represented hanging on a gallows.)

=Nille= (tears her hair, beats her breast, and cries)--Oh! Oh! Is it
possible that I shall see my husband hanging on a gallows! Ah, my
dearest husband! Forgive me if I have ever done anything to harm you.
Oh, oh! Now my conscience awakes; now I am sorry, but too late, that I
have treated you so mean; now I begin to miss you, now I can see what an
excellent husband I have lost! Oh! Oh, if I could only bring you back
from death, even at the cost of my own life and blood.

(Wipes her eyes and weeps bitterly. In the meantime the effects of the
sleep-producing drink have worn off, and Jeppe wakes and sees himself
hanging on a gallows with his hands tied behind his back; he hears his
wife sobbing and speaks to her.)

=Jeppe=--Don't feel bad, my darling wife! We must all go this way
sometime. Go home and take care of the house and look after my children.
My red coat can be made over for little Christian, and what is left
Martha may have for a cap. But, before all else, see to it that my
dappled horse is well taken care of, for I loved that beast as if he was
my own brother. If I wasn't dead I'd tell you a number of other things.

=Nille=--Oh--Oh--Oh--What is that? What do I hear? Can a dead man speak?

=Jeppe=--Do not fear, Nille; I won't hurt you.

=Nille=--Ah, my dearest husband, how can you speak when you are dead?

=Jeppe=--I don't know how it is myself. But listen, dear wife. Run like a
streak and bring me eight pence worth of whiskey, for I am more thirsty
now than when I was alive.

=Nille=--Fie! You beast! You rascal! You old sot! Didn't you drink whiskey
enough while you were alive? Are you still thirsty, you dog, now that
you are dead? You're what I call a regular hog!

=Jeppe=--Hold your tongue, you scold, and fetch the whiskey. If you don't
do that I'll be hanged if I won't haunt the house every night. You must
know that I'm not afraid of Master Erik any more, for I don't feel
thrashings now. (Nille runs to the house after Master Erik, returns and
thrashes him on the gallows.) Ou--Ou--Ouch! Stop, Nille! Stop! You might
kill me again, Ou--Ou--Ouch!

=Judge= (interferes)--Look here, woman, you must not strike him any more.
Be content; we will, for your sake, forgive your husband his offense,
and sentence him to life again.

=Nille=--Ah, no, gracious lord! Just let him hang, for he is not worth the

=Judge=--Fie! You are a wicked woman! Get out of here quickly or we shall
hang you up beside him. (Nille runs out.)

Scene 2.

  Jeppe. The Court.

(Jeppe is being taken down from the gallows.)

=Jeppe=--Ah, your honor! Is it certain that I am quite alive again or am I
a ghost?

=Judge=--You are quite alive; for the court which can sentence you to
death can also sentence you to life. Can't you understand that?

=Jeppe=--No, I don't understand it, but I believe I am still a ghost.

=Judge=--Ah, you fool! That is easy to see. He who takes a thing from you
can certainly give it back to you.

=Jeppe=--May I then try to hang the judge, just for fun, and see if I can
sentence him to life again later?

=Judge=--No, that won't do; for you are no judge.

=Jeppe=--But am I then alive again?

=Judge=--Yes, you are.

=Jeppe=--So that I'm not a ghost?

=Judge=--Certainly not!

=Jeppe=--Nor a spirit?


=Jeppe=--Am I then the same Jeppe on the Hill that I was before?

=Judge=--To be sure!

=Jeppe=--And not a spectre?

=Judge=--No, of course not.

=Jeppe=--Will you swear that it is true?

=Judge=--I swear that you are alive.

=Jeppe=--Will you cross your heart and hope to die if it isn't true?

=Judge=--You should believe what we say without question, and thank us
that we have been so merciful as to sentence you to life again.

=Jeppe=--If you had not hanged me yourselves, I should have been glad to
thank you for taking me down again.

=Judge=--Be content, Jeppe, and let us know when your wife beats you
again, and we shall look into the matter. See, here are four Rixdollars,
which you can have a good time with for awhile, and don't forget to
drink our health.

(Jeppe kisses his hand and thanks him. The judge goes away.)

Scene 3.

=Jeppe= (alone)--Here I have lived for fifty years, and in all that time I
have not gone through as much as in these two days. This is certainly a
queer story, when I stop to think of it; one hour a drunken peasant,
another hour baron, a third hour peasant again; now dead, now alive on a
gallows,--which is the funniest of it all; maybe when live people get
hanged they die, and when dead people get hanged they come to life
again. I guess that a drink of whiskey would taste fine on this. Hey!
Jakob Skomager, come out!

Scene 4.

  Jakob Skomager. Jeppe.

=Jakob=--Welcome back from town! Did you get the soap for your wife?

=Jeppe=--Ay, you rascal, you must know what kind of people you are talking
to! Off with your cap! for you are but an idiot compared to a fellow
like me.

=Jakob=--I'd not stand such words from anyone else, Jeppe. But since you
give my house a daily penny, I won't be too particular.

=Jeppe=--Off with your cap, you rascal!

=Jakob=--What has happened to you on the way, that you've got the big

=Jeppe=--You must know that I have been hanged since I spoke with you

=Jakob=--That is not so much to feel proud about. I don't envy you a bit.
But listen, Jeppe, "where you have drunk your beer there you should show
your spleen!" You become drunk at other places, but come into my house
just to make a disturbance.

=Jeppe=--Quick, off with your cap, you rascal! Don't you hear that
jingling in my pocket?

=Jakob= (with his hat under his arm)--Whew! Where did you get that money?

=Jeppe=--From my barony, Jakob. I'll tell you what has happened to me, but
give me a glass of mead first; for I am too proud to drink Danish

=Jakob=--Your health, Jeppe.

=Jeppe=--Now I shall tell you what has happened to me. When I left you I
fell asleep; when I woke up again I was a baron, and got drunk again on
canaille sack; when I got drunk of sack, I woke up on a dung-heap; when
I woke up on the dung-heap, I lay down to sleep again, hoping that I
would again become a baron, but I found that it doesn't always go like
that; for my wife woke me up with Master Erik and dragged me in by the
hair without having the least respect for such a man as I had been. When
I came into the room I was kicked out head first, and saw myself
surrounded by a lot of shysters, who sentenced me to death and killed me
with poison; after I had been hanged I came to life again and got four
Rixdollars. This is the whole story; but how such a thing could happen,
I will let you imagine.

=Jakob=--Ha! Ha! Ha! It's a dream, Jeppe.

=Jeppe=--If I didn't have these four Rixdollars I'd think it was a dream,
too. Give me another, Jakob, I'll not think more of that foolishness but
have another good drink.

=Jakob=--Your health, Baron. Ha! Ha! Ha!

=Jeppe=--Perhaps you can't understand this, Jakob?

=Jakob=--Not if I stood on my head.

=Jeppe=--It might be true anyway, Jakob, for you are a dunce, and don't
understand such things.

Scene 5.

  Magnus. Jeppe. Jakob.

=Magnus=--Ha! Ha! Ha! I'll tell you a confounded story about a man called
Jeppe on the Hill, who was found drunk and sleeping in the field,--his
clothes were changed, and he was laid in the best bed on the estate. He
was made to believe that he was the Baron, then they made him drunk
again, and put him back on the dung-heap. When he woke up, he imagined
that he had been in paradise. I laughed till I almost died when I heard
that story from the overseer's men. I would give a Rixdollar if I could
get a chance to see the fool. Ha, ha, ha!

=Jeppe=--How much do I owe, Jakob?

=Jakob=--Twelve pence.

(Jeppe wipes his mouth and goes away very much ashamed.)

=Magnus=--Why did that man leave so suddenly?

=Jakob=--That is the very person on whom the trick was played.

=Magnus=--Is it possible? Then I must hurry after him. Hold on, Jeppe! One
word more. How is everything getting along in the other world?

=Jeppe=--Let me go in peace.

=Magnus=--Why didn't you stay there longer?

=Jeppe=--Is that any of your business?

=Magnus=--Ay, tell us something about your journey.

=Jeppe=--Let me go, I tell you; or I shall do something to you.

=Magnus=--Ay, Jeppe, I am so anxious to find out something about it.

=Jeppe=--Jakob Skomager! Help! Will you let people be attacked in your

=Magnus=--I am doing you no harm, Jeppe. I only ask what you saw in the
other world.

=Jeppe=--Hey! Help! Help!

=Magnus=--Did you see any of my ancestors there?

=Jeppe=--No, your ancestors must be in the other place, where I hope you
and other rascals will go when you die. (Struggles with Magnus and gets

Scene 6.

  Baron. His secretary. Valet. Two lackeys.

=Baron=--Ha, ha, ha! That joke is worth a good deal; I had not thought
that it would have had such good effect. If you can amuse me as well
again, Erik, you shall stand very high in my regard.

=Erik=--No, gracious lord, I dare not risk such comedy again; for if he
had struck my lord, as he threatened to do, there might have been a
terrible tragedy.

=Baron=--That is, by my faith, true enough. I myself feared it somewhat,
but I was so interested in the outcome that I would rather have allowed
myself to be struck,--yes, I believe I would rather have allowed myself
to be hanged by him, Erik, than to have given the story away. You were
probably of the same mind.

=Erik=--No, my lord! It would be rather strange to allow one's self to be
hanged in jest, for that pleasure would be too costly.

=Baron=--Ay! Such things happen every day. If not in that manner, then in
some other, do people lose their lives through some jest. For example,
if a man has a weak will and knows that he is likely to lose both life
and health from too much drink, still he is likely to overtask his
strength and risk both for the sake of an evening's pleasure. I am
convinced, Erik, that it would have been better if you had allowed
yourself to be hanged rather than to have spoiled such a splendid


  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation have been
    retained from the original.

  Text in bold is surrounded by equals signs.

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that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.